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Regional News

Ethanol-Slaughterhouse Resolution Reversal

By Joyce Gramza

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wrvo/local-wrvo-934198.mp3

Phoenix, NY – An Oswego County town has taken back a resolution that favored bringing a combination ethanol plant and slaughterhouse to the area.

The Schroeppel town board passed the resolution in December. It said the town favored working with a company called Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc.

The small company approached the town with a big idea a cattle feeding, ethanol-producing, meat-packing operation powered by energy from manure.

As Schroeppel town supervisor Paul Casler explains, the company describes the operation as a "closed loop."

"It starts out with an ethanol plant and then the waste from the ethanol plant would go to feed cattle, and then they would take the cattle and send them to a slaughterhouse. And in turn with the waste from the animals, that would create energy to run the ethanol plant and the slaughterhouse," says Casler.

He says that, to be cost-effective, the operation would need to be very large, which would create hundreds of jobs.

Casler says the purpose of the resolution was to extend a welcome to the company to present its technology,

"All our resolution was back on December 10 was to work with Bion to see if it's something viable for the area," Casler says.

"We want out town to look favorable at companies that want to locate into our town, so the town board at that time, when they came to us, thought it would be nice to do a resolution for them," he says. "That way we can show the company that we're willing to work with them and listen to what they had to offer the area."

The resolution said Bion would need to show that it could comply with all laws and permit regulations, and Casler says that it would have had no effect on procedures for planning or committing to a development project.

But some residents objected. Such large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO's, bring special sets of health and environmental problems.

Residents voiced concerns ranging from odors and flies, to air and water pollution, to disease risks to people or nearby livestock, to transportation issues on the town's rural roads.

Last week the board voted again, this time to withdraw the resolution.

Casler says the town is still willing to entertain a proposal from Bion.

"We're not saying we're not going to work with Bion. We still want to work with bion, but Bion has to create a plan, and then bring it in front of the planning board," he says.

Casler says he hopes not to send a message to any companies exploring the area that the town is unfriendly to development.

"We still want to work with any company that wants to come to the area," he says. "There's no ifs, ands or buts, we listen to everything. We're very pro development, to create good jobs in our area instead of sending all of them away."

He said he plans to talk to Bion to explain the town's position.